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More than half of Mass. Republicans considered leaving the state in the past year, poll finds

The W.E.B. Du Bois Library on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

A new poll reveals that many Republicans are less than elated to reside in deep-blue Massachusetts.

More than half the state’s Republicans have considered moving out of Massachusetts over the past year, owing in part to frustration over tax rates and progressive policies, according to a new UMass Amherst/WCVB poll of 700 residents.

The poll, which had a 4.7 percent margin of error, found that 53 percent of Republicans, and nearly four in 10 Massachusetts residents overall, have contemplated leaving the state for a more affordable locale, according to a statement from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Conservatives and Republicans are minorities in Massachusetts, one of the nation’s most progressive states, and they are expressing their displeasure,” said Jesse Rhodes, a political science professor and the poll’s co-director, in the statement.


“Huge majorities of conservatives and Republicans believe the state is on the wrong track, and majorities of both groups say they’ve contemplated leaving the state,” Rhodes said. “For these groups, beliefs that taxes are too high and that policies have become too liberal are major sources of dissatisfaction.”

A request for comment on the poll results was sent Tuesday afternoon to a spokesperson for the Massachusetts Republican Party.

Governor Maura Healey, a Democrat, is currently pushing for taxpayer relief, offering up a nearly $1 billion proposal earlier this year, and the state House of Representatives on Tuesday unveiled a tax plan that would provide $654 million in tax relief in the next fiscal year.

“Gov. Maura Healey surprised many when she made reform of the state’s estate and capital gains taxes a central priority of her administration,” Tatishe M. Nteta, a UMass Amherst political science professor who directed the poll, said in the statement.

“Our results suggest that for many residents contemplating a move from the state, the cost of living and taxes rank high in explaining their flirtation with leaving the commonwealth,” Nteta said. “If our results are a harbinger of an exodus from the state, Healey hopes that her proposals may stem the rising tide of discontentment and keep many from fleeing Massachusetts.”


It’s not just Republicans and conservatives who are feeling the pinch.

Nearly 40 percent of Massachusetts residents have considered leaving the state in the past year, including 43 percent of people of color and younger residents, and 46 percent of those earning less than $40,000 annually, according to the statement.

Among poll respondents, the statement continued, the top reasons for weighing a move included the cost of living in Massachusetts, the prospect of making a change in their lives, concerns about high taxes and governance, and feelings of exclusion and complaints about “progressive politics.”

“Massachusetts residents continue to contemplate moving from the state, with the top concern the high cost of living,” said Raymond La Raja, a UMass Amherst political science professor and co-director of the poll, in the statement.

“Overall, 39 percent say they have considered moving in the past year, a small upward tick from six months ago when 35 percent said this,” La Raja said. “Moreover, it is younger people and the more educated who are more likely to think of leaving the state, groups that the state cannot afford to lose for its future.”

His words were echoed by Rhodes.

“The state needs to be concerned about a possible ‘brain drain’ of talented and ambitious residents,” Rhodes said in the statement. “Fully 43 percent of 18-29-year-old residents have contemplated leaving the state in the past year, as well as 41 percent of those with a college degree and 42 percent of those with a post-graduate degree. To maintain a growing economy, as well as a vibrant society, Massachusetts needs to find ways to encourage these residents to continue to live in the state.”


Not all the data was gloomy, however.

The statement said 54 percent of respondents rated the Massachusetts economy — buoyed by its vibrant life science, medical, academic, and high-finance sectors — as “good” or “excellent,” while just 27 percent characterized the US economy that way.

“However, when asked about their own economic situation, those who view it positively has not changed,” La Raja said Tuesday. “It still stands at 44 percent.”

Nteta, meanwhile, said the state’s rising home prices, rents, and wages suggest Massachusetts has become a “destination of choice” for transplants from the United States and abroad.

“However, there still remain economic challenges faced by residents of the Bay State,” Nteta said. “Close to one in five residents of the state assess their personal economic well-being as ‘poor,’ the highest percentage since we began polling this question in November 2021.”

Kitchen table issues were a key factor.

“Economic concerns such as the cost of living, inflation, and housing dominate the perceptions of the most important issue facing the state and close to a quarter of our respondents indicated that they have had difficulty paying rent or their mortgage (23 percent), medical care (26 percent), or for food (28 percent) in the past year,” Nteta said.


Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at